and i love halloween.
until it's time to go to sleep.
actually, i recently placed a new restriction on myself in that regard:
no more scary movies. ever again.
i have somewhat of a photographic memory. and images of killers in masks running around with butcher knives dancing through my head at night just isn't something i want going on in my life anymore. so in spite of how fun it is for the hour or two i'm doing it, i'm just not going to enter those images into my head.
but before i implemented this restriction, i spent one of my favorite halloweens of college in a friend of mine's dorm room watching a couple of horribly scary movies. it was hilarious and terrifying and fun.
we had been at a party on campus, but were tired of frat boys and their houses and so we left and went to blockbuster because it still existed then and we got our movies and went back to her dorm.
we watched this one movie called skeleton key. the majority of the movie was one mysterious, creepy occurrence after another until the very end, when the main character is trapped in the attic trying to protect herself from "spooks" by using spells from an old book she'd found lying around the house.
although she didn't reveal herself until the final minutes of the movie, it had been obvious for awhile that this white-haired, raspy-voiced old lady was the source of all the creepiness and scary music the whole time. so when the main character is attempting to protect herself with the aforementioned spells, the old lady comes creaking up the stairs. a wild look in her eye, she steps into the room with the terrified main character, who tells her she's too late, that she's already cast the protective spell.
but the old lady laughs and tells her the protective spell could never have saved her. she tells her that the moment she believed the "spooks" were real, she entered their world and she made herself their prey.
so if the main character had clung to the truth she'd previously known, the truth that "spooks" were make believe, she would have remained immune to them. she wouldn't have lost her life in the last fifteen minutes of the movie. she wouldn't have left disappointed audiences all over place to cope with a horrible ending to a pretty horrible movie.
the other day, i thought about the fact that body image is a lot like the "spooks". i have spent more time and more energy than i care to think about, taking all kinds of precautionary measures to protect myself from bad body image. i've hoped and prayed that it would stay away. i've helplessly waited for it, like some kind of monster i can do nothing about, trying to enjoy the time i have before it barges in my door and turns my whole world upside down.
i've had some great body image lately, but i've found myself afraid to believe that it's real, afraid that as soon as i settle into it the scary music will start playing and bad body image will be on its way back to get me.
but i've realized that to be afraid of bad body image, to be unable to enjoy good body image and the peace that comes with it is to believe that bad body image is more than image. it's to believe that the large and ugly image i see is real.
in other words, living in fear of seeing a fat person in the mirror is believing that that image is true and believing that that image is true is believing that i am fat.
so if i am truly fat, then what do i do with the good body image? i can't believe that i'm fat and than i'm not fat, so i have to believe that the good body image is just a trick my mind is playing on me; that it's nice to look at, but only in a heartbreakingly imaginary sort of way.
but what if it's the other way around?
what if i'm actually kind of a small person, and the fat girl is just a fake production of my mind. what if i actually get to live inside the body i like and i get to simply dismiss the one i don't like?
what if i decide that bad body image is all a trick, a ploy from my eating disorder to make me serve it longer and harder. it's just a stupid illusion that can only touch me if i believe it. and there's no reason to believe it because nothing about my lifestyle can sensibly result in my body weighing more than it should.
what if i decide that good body image is real. that when i like what i see, i'm seeing the real me. that when i don't like what i see, i can laugh and shrug it off and feel bad for my eating disorder because its exhausted all its tricks. that i don't have to be afraid to believe i'm actually okay and happy with where my body is because i don't have to be afraid that good things will always go away.
if i do these things, if i take the reigns of what i know about my body back into my own hands, i get to live a free life. i get to stop thinking about how much i hate myself and what i might do to fix it and i get to start using that extra time and those extra thoughts for things that are real and are important. i get to stop being oppressed and start appreciating my body and the things it does for me. i get to start eating awesome food and stop thinking that it's going to make me even fatter. i get to start thinking about my life as a life and not as a quest to escape the fat girl in the mirror.
i've been living this way for nearly a month.
it is wonderful.
and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.